Holy Willie's Prayer
Robert Burns, (1759-1796)
OH Thou, wha in the heavens dost dwell!
Wha, as it pleases best thysel',
Sends ane to heaven, and ten to hell,
A' for thy glory,
And no' for ony gude or ill
They've done afore thee!
I bless and praise thy matchless might,
When thousands thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore thy sight,
For gifts and grace,
A burnin' an' a shinin' light
To a' this place!
What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation?
I, wha deserve sic just damnation
For broken laws,
Five thousand years 'fore my creation,
Thro' Adam's cause!
When frae my mither's womb I fell,
Thou might hae plungèd me in hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin' lake,
Where damnèd devils roar and yell,
Chain'd to a stake.
Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I'm here a pillar in thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a' thy flock.
O Lord thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, and swearers swear,
And singin' there, and dancin' here,
Wi' great an' sma';
For I am keepet by thy fear,
Free frae them a'.
But yet, o Lord! confess I must,
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust;
And sometimes too wi' warldly trust,
Vile self gets in;
But thou remembers we are dust,
Defil'd in sin.
0 Lord! yestreen, thou kens, wi' Meg-
Thy pardon I sincerely beg-
O may it ne'er be a livin' plague
To my dishonour,
An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.
Besides, I farther maun allow,
Wi? Leezie's lass, three times I trow;
But, Lord, that Friday I was fou,
When I came near her,
Or else, thou kens, thy servant true
Wad ne'er hae steer'd her.
Maybe thou lets this fleshly thorn,
Beset thy servant e'en and morn,
Lest he owre high and proud should turn,
'Cause he's, sae gifted;
If sae, thy han'maun e'n be borne,
Until thou lift it
Lord, bless thy chosen in this place,
For here thou hast a chosen race:
But God confound their stubborn face,
And blast their name,
Wha bring thy elders to disgrace
An'public shame !
Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton' deserts,
He drinks, and swears, an' plays at cartes,
Yet has sae mony takin' arts,
Wi' grit an' sma',
Frae God's ain priests the people's hearts
He steals awa'.
An' when we chasten'd him therefor,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
As set the warld in a roar
O' laughin' at us:-
Curse thou his basket and his store,
Kail an' potatoes!
Lord, hear my earnest cry an' pray'r,
Against that Presbyt'ry of Ayr;
Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak' it bare
Upo' their heads!
Lord, weigh it down, and dinna spare,
For their misdeeds!
Oh Lord my God, that glib-tongued Aiken,
My very heart an' saul are quakin',
To think how we stood sweatin', shakin',
An' pish'd wi' dread,
While Auld wi' hingin' lip and snakin',
Held up his head.
Lord, in the day of vengeance try him!
Lord, visit them wha did employ him!
And pass not in thy mercy by them,
Nor hear their prayer;
But for thy people's sake destroy them,
And dinna spare!
But, Lord, remember me and mine,
Wi' mercies temp'ra'l and divine,
That I for gear and grace may shine,
Excell'd by nane,
An' a' the glory shall be thine,
steer'd: interfered with, had sex with
Gavin Hamilton was Burns's laird and close friend who not only
occasionally absented himself from church meetings but was known to dig
potatoes in his garden on Sundays!
Aitken was another friend of Burns.
Auld was the minister at Mauchline.
gear: riches, goods of any kind